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Michael NYMAN (b. 1944)
McQueen, film score
No recording details provided
MN RECORDS MNRCD145 [70:43 + 68:01]

Caveat Emptor!

This is a most enjoyable anthology but only one track has not been previously issued: the final one on the second disc.

Lee Alexander McQueen was a famous figure in the world of fashion, at various times Chief Designer for Givenchy as well as head of his own labels, Alexander McQueen, and McQ. Various honours included British Designer of the Year, International Designer of the Year and a C.B.E. His life ended tragically as a result of manic-depressive illness, anxiety, drug use and, ultimately, suicide by hanging. Accounts of his life reveal a man of immense charisma and ability.

Various attempts made to dramatize his life were superseded by the documentary, McQueen, by Ian Bonhöte and Peter Ettedgui, using Nyman’s music. The choice seems singularly appropriate: McQueen was a great enthusiast for Nyman and listened to his CDs, especially the film score for The Piano, extracted in the current collection, while working.

The new track is the brief ‘Lee’s Sarabande’, commissioned by McQueen in 2006. Played, I assume, by Michael Nyman, for solo piano, it begins quietly and poetically for ground bass before becoming more animated (though never fast) with a lovely melody. There is energy and elegance – and perhaps some sadness – in a piece less than three minutes long.

For the rest, the double album prides a useful introduction to the world of Nyman. Most anthologies of his work have tended to focus on his original – and highly accomplished – film music. What is valuable about this new collection is the way it draws on the range of his output, including some of his piano works, though I would have welcomed some of his chamber works, notably the piano trios and his splendid string quartets.

It might seem a little odd that the score for the film is not an original one, but we know very well how often Nyman’s music is used in documentaries and other films. It is often, as in the Greenaway films, less scene-specific than most film scores. And Nyman himself is almost baroque in his self-quotation and recycling of earlier music, as in his ongoing cycle of symphonies.

I enjoyed this as a collection. It would make an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to explore further.

Michael Wilkinson

Track Listing
McQueen: Time Lapse (Nyman/Greenaway Revisited) [3:54]
Tape No.1: A Sixth Part of the World 1 (Vertov Sounds) [5:55]
Kinky Gerlinky: Secrets, Accusations and Charges (The Glare) [3:34]
Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims: MGV 1st Region ((MGV and The Piano Concerto) [5:00]
Tape No.2: Knights at School (Nyman Brass) [7:37]
Sky’s the Limit: Chasing Sheep is Best Left to Shepherds (Nyman/Greenaway Revisited) [5:06]
Lee Scissorhands: Bird List (‘Michael Nyman’) [4:22]
Joyce: Passage de l’Égalité (La Traversée de Paris) [6:28]
Nocturne (Stitching to Nyman): Big My Secret (The Piano Sings) [2:54]
The Highland Rape: Abel carries Ephraim (Nyman Brass) [5:25]
Armour for the Heart: ‘I am also a painter’ (Sublime) [2:52]
Bleached Jeans and Attitude: Here to There (The Piano) [2:58]
Paris Chic: Revisiting the Don (Mozart 252) [4:26]
Search for the Golden Fleece: A Satire Against Mankind (The Libertine) [3:05]
It’s a Jungle Out There: Queen of the Night (The Draughtsman’s Contract) [7:00]
Tape No. 4: Es war Erde in inhen (Six Celan Songs) [4:59]
Haute Couture: Outside Looking In (Carrington) [9:13]
Devil Crossing the Door: Lyra da braccio (Sublime) [3:14]
Incubus: Flying Machines (Sublime) [1:34]
No Way Back: The Exchange (The Piano Sings) [3:06]
Fairlight: Franklyn (The Piano Sings) [2:29]
Tape No.5: Fish Beach (Mozart 252) [2:53]
La Dame Bleue: The Promise (The Piano) [3:03]
Metamorphosis: All Imperfect Things (The Piano Sings) [4:17]
Solitude: Trysting Fields/ Sheep ‘n’ Tides (Mozart 252) [7:17]
The Final Collection: Lost and Found (The Piano Sings) [2:59]
Plato’s Atlantis: The Piano Concerto – The Beach ((MGV and The Piano Concerto) [11:50]
Angels and Daemons: Upon Leaving His Mistress (The Libertine) [5:23]
Silhouette: Diary of Love (The Piano Sings) [2:42]
Lee’s Sarabande: Dealing for the Sarabande (McQueen) [2:54]


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